TELEFAX AND LETTER
Mr Lennart Johansson
UEFA President and FIFA Vice-President
Gammelgårdsvägen 52, VII
112 64 STOCKHOLM
Zurich, 22 April 2002
It is only a few months since we discussed the situation for the forthcoming FIFA and UEFA presidential elections. We both agreed that I would do my utmost to ensure that you would be the sole candidate for the UEFA presidency and would therefore continue in your current role. I confirmed this in an official statement at the Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Prague on 11-12 October 2001. For your part, you were in agreement that I should remain FIFA President and that would announce this publicly. We acknowledged that we do not always share the same views in matters relating to our sport, but it was clear to us both that such differences should never constitute grounds for a personal feud. We may have been opponents, but we were not enemies.
It would seem that in the meantime your opinion has changed. You clearly no longer want my presidency of FIFA to continue. You have signed letters containing statements that I find inexplicable. You have launched attacks on my leadership and my personal integrity. You have allowed yourself to be roped in to a campaign that causes more harm to the game of football than it does to me. You have allowed your correspondence to fall into the hands of the media in order to propagate these feelings against me. You
have even managed to find an unexpected ally in the person of the FIFA General Secretary.
I am forced to accept your change of heart – something that deeply disappoints me. I feel yet more saddened at the manner of the campaign that has been mounted against me. An objective discussion of the problems facing football – of which there are more than enough – no longer seems possible. For the first time in my long career with FIFA, I detect that endeavors are being made not just to beat an
opponent, but to destroy him. Arguments are no longer heard, but brushed aside. Facts are no longer acknowledged, but simply ignored.
You and your allies allege that FIFA’s finances are in disarray. Yet the fact is that the financial situation is
actually entirely in order, as I have asserted on numerous occasions. As the Executive Committee has long been aware, although expenditure exceeds revenue, FIFA’s liquidity is ensured. Since March 2000, the Executive Committee has repeatedly discussed the issue of ‘securitisation’.
Suddenly this word now appears to be shrouded in mystery to many. We have been forced to absorb the collective impact of
the bankruptcy of ISL/ISMM, the termination of insurance policies for the World Cup, and the collapse of KirchMedia. Even though my opponents do not want to believe it, the losses resulting from the ISL/ISMM bankruptcy have been kept to a minimum. Nonetheless, inflated figures pertaining to alleged losses continue to be bandied around. KirchMedia has paid us in full for the TV rights, and insurance
cover for the World Cup finals has been restored. We have emerged from one of the most testing periods in the history of FIFA in good shape. The Executive Committee handed me the mandate to regulate the ramifications of these commercial matters.
I believe that I have negotiated this task successfully.
The sponsors believe in FIFA, as do the banks and rating agencies. Several companies would be prepared to invest in the television rights, on the same conditions as before – are they all unsuspecting commercial entities, who do not know the true state of FIFA? Did FIFA not merit the trust of the financial markets? Are the financial experts from the business world less capable of examining FIFA’s accounts
than some members of the Executive Committee? Have the Finance Committee and the Executive Committee failed over the years? Why do people not listen when we at FIFA announce financial decisions with unprecedented levels of transparency and when we explain figures and areas of
Let me move on to the ad hoc Internal Audit Committee (IAC). When I suspended the work of the IAC because confidentiality could no longer be ensured, I complied with the rules that had been agreed mutually, but they were subsequently not adhered to. I must also reiterate that we did not agree to a witch hunt, but the clarification of a list of questions, which we drew up jointly. We will undoubtedly find a way to resume the work of the IAC soon.
Football is about to embark on very challenging times: the World Cup finals – logistically the most demanding project in the history of our sport – begin in just six weeks. Countless leagues and clubs around the world are enduring financial difficulties. The revenue from television contracts is stagnating or in decline. The testing economic climate around the world means that football too faces major
problems. We are confronted by more obstacles than ever before.
Instead of focusing our attention on these challenges, my opponents conjure up images of some kind of financial meltdown that does not exist. The FIFA President is being fought in a despicable style of unprecedented proportions. We are gifting the media with an undignified spectacle. Disputes are being aired in public. We are detracting from our own success, fighting an unnecessary battle that our national associations no longer understand.
On 28 May we will meet in Seoul at the Congress convened to discuss the financial situation. By then, the results of the IAC will also have been announced. The following day the FIFA President will be elected. Two candidates will contest this election. In the meantime, do we really want to give the media even more ammunition for negative headlines?
It is in your hands, Lennart, to set the tone for the coming weeks. I can hardly believe that you take any
pleasure from the current conflict.
Joseph S. Blatter
cc FIFA Executive Committee members
UEFA Executive Committee members
For more details contact:
Fifa Communications Division
T: +41 1254 9725